How to Cook an Egg with Your Cell Phone

Cooking egg with phone
Attributed to Anatoly Zhdanov, Komsomolskaya Pravda

Viral article purports to offer "scientific proof" that you can cook an egg by positioning it between two cell phones and placing a call.

Description: Viral article
Circulating since: May 2006
Status: False (details below)

Email contributed by Nicole T., July 7, 2006:

How Two Russian Journalists Cooked an Egg with their Mobile Phones
Vladimir Lagovski and Andrei Moiseynko from Komsomolskaya Pravda Newspaper in Moscow decided to learn first-hand how harmful cell phones are. There is no magic in cooking with your cell phone. The secret is in the radio waves that the cell phone radiates.
The journalists created a simple microwave structure as shown in the picture. They called from one cell phone to the other and left both phones on talking mode. They placed a tape recorder next to phones to imitate sounds of speaking so the phones would stay on.
After, 15 minutes: The egg became slightly warm.
25 minutes: The egg became very warm.
40 minutes: The egg became very hot.
65 minutes: The egg was cooked. (As you can see.)
(Photos attributed to Anatoly Zhdanov, Komsomolskaya Pravda)

Analysis: The "news" that radio frequency emissions from a pair of cell phones can be harnessed for cooking caused quite a stir in the blogosphere when it broke in February 2006. Skeptics insisted it was impossible — that the slight wattage emitted by mobile phones isn't strong or consistent enough to heat an object to cooking temperature. Some tried to replicate the experiment, without success. Others investigated the original source of the information, the Wymsey Village Web, and questioned its authenticity. Mightn't the name "Wymsey" be a clue?

Sure enough, the site's webmaster, one Charles Ivermee of Southampton, U.K., stepped forward to acknowledge authorship of the article and confirm that its content was purely satirical, not factual. "It was 6 years ago," Ivermee told Gelf Magazine, "but I seem to recall that there was a lot of concern about people's brains getting fried and being from a radio/electronics background I found it all rather silly. So I thought I'd add to the silliness." He expressed bewilderment at how seriously people seemed to be taking it. One British exam study site, he said, had republished the information without even attempting to verify it.

Dial and Error

New York Times food writer Paul Adams, who specializes in testing unconventional cooking methods (he's your man if you want to learn how to poach a salmon in the dishwasher), tried Ivermee's tongue-in-cheek recipe in March 2006. "I stood an egg in an egg cup between two short stacks of books," he wrote. "With my new Treo 650 I called my old Samsung cellphone, answering it when it rang. I laid the two phones on the books so their antennas pointed at the egg."

It didn't work. After 90 minutes the egg was still cold. "Clearly, people are eager to have their technophobias confirmed," Adams observed, "but a cellphone's power output is half a watt at most, less than a thousandth of what a typical microwave oven emits."

At about the same time, reportedly, the hosts of the U.K. TV show "Brainiac: Science Abuse" attempted a more dramatic version of the experiment, arraying 100 cell phones around a single egg and dialing them up all at once. The result? At the end of the "cooking" process, the egg wasn't even warm.

The Yolk's on Us

Contrary to all common sense, two journalists from the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda claimed they successfully cooked an egg with two cell phones in April 2006. Citing "a popular British Internet forum for students" as the inspiration for their project, Vladimir Lagovski and Andrei Moiseynko followed Ivermee's instructions to the letter, situating a raw egg between two cell phones, switching on a portable radio to emulate conversation, and dialing one phone from the other to establish a connection.

After three minutes — the amount of time Ivermee claimed it took to thoroughly cook an egg — theirs was still cold, the Russians reported. At the 15-minute mark, the same. But 10 minutes later, they remarked, the egg had gotten noticeably warmer. When the experiment came to an abrupt end at the 65-minute mark because one of the cell phones ran out of power, Lagovski and Moiseynko said they cracked open the egg and found it was cooked to the equivalent of a soft boil.

"Therefore," they concluded, "carrying two cell phones in the pockets of your pants is not recommended."

I don't know about that, but based on the preponderance of evidence I do recommend taking most of what they say with a great big grain of salt.

See also: How to Pop Popcorn with Your Cell Phone

Sources and further reading:

How to Cook an Egg (and Create a Viral Sensation)
Gelf Magazine, 7 February 2006

A Guide to Mobile Cooking
Original satirical article by Charles Ivermee (Wymsey Village Web), 2000

Is It Possible to Cook an Egg with the Aid of a Cell Phone?
Komsomolskaya Pravda (in Russian), 21 April 2006

Mobile Phone Cooks Egg
ABC Science, 23 August 2007

Need a Cooker? Use Your Cell Phone
By Sue Mueller,, 14 June 2006

Take Egg off Speed Dial
New York Times, 8 March 2006